Vision, Speech and Signal Processing PhD
Full-time - 4 years
Start datesJuly 2021
Part-time - 8 years
Start datesJuly 2021
Why choose this course
At the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP), we’re developing exciting and ground-breaking technologies. These include facial recognition for security and medical imaging, through to 3D spatial audio and 3D reconstruction from video for visual-effects production in films, games and virtual reality. Our research is creating machines that can see, hear and understand the world around them.
The Centre is one of the largest audio and vision research groups in Europe, and we’re internationally recognised for our pioneering research and novel technologies in audio-visual machine perception. We bring together a unique combination of cutting-edge sound and vision expertise with more than 170 researchers, and we’ve currently attracted more than £26 million in research grants.
Our research aims to advance the state-of-the-art in audio-visual signal processing, computer vision and machine learning, with a focus on image, video and audio applications. We have expertise and activities in computer vision, digital signal processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, computer graphics and human computer interaction, and data science for media, medical image analysis and multimedia communication.
We often collaborate with industry and our research has led to frequent technology transfer and exploitation, with previous research projects having resulted in award-winning spin-out companies in biometrics, communications, medical technologies and in the creative industries.
Our audio-visual research facilities are cutting-edge, and include a unique multiple UltraHD performance capture studio and high-performance computing capabilities for real-time analysis and machine learning.
What you will study
You can take a maximum of four years of full-time study to complete our PhD programme. After 12 months, you’ll write a confirmation report, which is assessed by two independent examiners. After that, you’ll submit a written PhD thesis after a minimum of three years of full-time study. We’ll work with you to make a detailed evaluation of your progress and future research plans every six months to help you keep on track to successfully complete your PhD.
You’ll be allocated two Surrey-based academic supervisors, in addition to any external collaborative supervisors. Your principal supervisor will be an expert in your area of research and they’ll be in charge of monitoring your research progress on a regular basis. Your supervisors will help you define the initial objective and scope of your research, and to refine these as your project evolves. They’ll direct you to resources to help you learn the necessary experimental, theoretical or computing skills you need, and they’ll be able to advise you on how to complete your PhD and your thesis. We often appoint external collaborative supervisors to contribute specific expertise or to allow access to external resources or organisations.
You’ll also be assigned to a research group, which includes a team of academics, postdoctoral researchers, guest scientists and fellows. Lots of our research at CVSSP is interdisciplinary and you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with scientists at universities, research establishments and industries around the world. We encourage active interaction with your peers and our researchers and academics, and we offer a friendly environment that nurtures openness and collaboration. You’ll be encouraged to present your research at well-renowned national and international conferences to gain experience and establish networks with leading researchers.
Our monthly seminars are open to all postgraduate researchers and we host leading experts from other institutions within the UK and from overseas, who give talks to members of the Centre in specific areas of research. In addition, our postgraduate researchers also attend regular internal seminars, where you’ll be able to present your individual research or practice presentations you’d like to give at conferences or events.
The University also holds an annual postgraduate researcher conference on campus, where you’ll be able to showcase your work and network with other researchers and academics.
You may be eligible to apply for membership with the British Machine Vision Association, the Audio Engineering Society, the British Computer Society and the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET). You may also apply for Chartered Engineer status with the Engineering Council UK and with the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
Our research activities within CVSSP are grouped into the following areas:
- Creative vision and sound focuses on machine audition, developing audio signal processing technology relating to speech recognition, and blind source separation as well as multimedia communications, including audio-visual coding, annotation, search, broadcast and streaming technologies. It also focuses on computer vision and machine learning for visual media, specialising in 3D and 4D content production for film, TV and VR, including performance capture, animation, visual action recognition and audio-visual scene understanding.
- Security focuses on biometric- and security-related technologies, specialising in facial biometrics and lip tracking.
- Robotics focuses on cognitive systems, covering a broad range of technologies relating to visual interaction with computers. These include sign language recognition and robotics.
- Healthcare focuses on medical imaging technologies and works closely with leading healthcare institutions.
- Data focuses on the application of AI for audio-visual information search, understanding and preservation including visual recognition, distributed ledger technologies and the understanding of AI systems.
- Distributed ledger technologies focuses on alternative uses for distributed ledger technology, including safe online identity, healthcare, and secure digital archives.
Our six research themes cover a range of topics, including – but not limited to – the following:
- Computer vision
- Machine learning
- Robotics and autonomous systems
- 3D and 4D video
- 3D spatial audio
- Blind source separation
- Coding and transmission
- Facial analysis
- Human motion analysis
- Media adaptation
- Media networking
- Medical image acquisition
- Medical image analysis
- Quality of experience
- Sign and gesture analysis
- Speech and audio processing
- Video and audio retrieval
- Interfaces/visual interaction.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP).
We host a number of cutting-edge laboratory facilities in the Centre to support the exciting research being carried out by all its members and associates.
4D computer vision
The Audio-Visual Lab hosts a state-of-the-art capture studio with unique multiple UltraHD cameras supporting research in real-time audio visual processing and visualisation. We collaborate with companies specialising in film, TV, games, virtual and augmented reality.
Spatial audio and machine audition
The Audio Lab facilities include a purpose built audio booth and the Surrey Sound Sphere, which is the centrepiece of our cutting-edge audio and acoustics research. It includes 64 Genelec speakers with audio interfaces, 48 configurable channels, a pre-amplified microphone array and an acoustically isolated audio booth.
The Surrey Sound Sphere has supported research on personal sound zones, human sound localisation and object-based 3D spatial audio as part of the S3A research collaboration. This is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Biometrics and face recognition
We have cutting-edge equipment supporting research into 3D face recognition, including facial feature types, emotion recognition and face models for biometrics. This is part of the FACER2VM EPSRC Programme Grant.
Our Robot Lab supports research into autonomous systems, collaborative mapping, autonomous navigation and robotic machine learning, and links closely with our expertise in computer vision, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Facilities include a Baxter robot and various mobile robot platforms.
Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Start date: July 2021
Start date: October 2021
Start date: January 2022
Start date: April 2022
For fees payable in 2020/21, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2021 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
Active Machine Perception of Humans in Dynamic Scenes for Safer Intelligent Systems
The funding package for this studentship award is as follows: Full UK/EU tuition fee covered Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21) RTSG of £1,000 p.a. Personal Computer (provided by the department)
Medical Imaging for cancer studies
A stipend of £18,609 for 21/22, which will increase each year in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) rate, plus Home/EU-rate fee allowance of £4,500 (with automatic increase to UKRI rate each year). The studentship is offered for3 years.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.